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There is a magical place in Brussels. It is called Cook & Book.

D has listened to me wax lyrical about this place for ages now – especially since everytime we drive by it, I’ve said, ‘Hey, we should go there! Have you heard about it? They cook and you can read books!”  [Insert sigh and eye-roll from his side here, followed by a “Oh… I’ve mentioned it before…” from me.] I repeat myself. I prefer to see it as an endearing quality… ahem…

Back to COOK & BOOK. We went there for lunch yesterday and this place is fun. It has been featured as one of the top 20 most beautiful book stores in the world by Flavorwire, and it lives up to its reputation. Just take a look at the Mini parked inside the Italian cafe & cookbook section:

Built over a huge space just behind the new(ish) Woluwe-St-Pierre cultural centre, Cook & Book is comprised of two separate cafes and nine book stores melded into one. There is a brasserie for everything from sandwiches and soups, burgers and woks as well as an Italian restaurant (pictured above). Eating space is interspersed in between the various book stores as well as over some prime-time mid-day terrace space during the summer months.

The nine bookstores cover French-language literature, Lifestyle, Cookbooks, Kids, Comic books (very Belgian), Travel, Fine arts, Music and my favorite, English-language literature. A major bonus for anglophones living in Brussels, there are three English book stores to choose from in town (Waterstones and Sterling Books being the other two, located downtown).

But Cook & Book is more about the ambiance in my opinon than serious book searching. It is a place to spend a few hours. Have lunch, browse, find some neat gifts (there are food items, little knick-knacks and other items everywhere), have a coffee and then browse some more. You can even lounge outside the English section in some classy 20s-inspired beach chairs. And warn your boyfriend he’s going to have to drag you out kicking and screaming.

I failed to take a picture of the beach chairs…but did capture the cool pool-table inspired seats just inside.

To get to Cook & Book, take the metro to the Roodebeek station (you come out under the Woluwe mall… so plan to get some shopping done too). Then exit the mall and cross the street towards the almost Guggenheim-looking Woluwe cultural centre. Cook & Book is just behind it.

Photos taken with Instagram by jessinbelgium.

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Thank you, Guardian, for pointing out this great blogpiece on Flavorwire about the world’s most beautiful bookstores.

Click here for the full list of 20 stores, but some favorites are already pasted here below, including Cook & Book in Woluwe St Pierre here in Brussels (its essentially some 8 different bookstores all mashed into one – retro restaurant, cafe, beach chairs in summer and cocktails also included).

I would equally add KramerBooks & afterwords cafe off Dupont Circle in Washington DC as well as a newer discovery on a recent weekend in the UK: the Fifteenth Century Bookshop in Lewes.

Above: Selexyz Bookstore, Maastricht, The Netherlands

Librería El Ateneo Grand Splendid, Buenos Aires, Argentina (photo via)

Cafebreria El Pendulo, Mexico City, Mexico

Shakespeare & Company, Paris, France

Cook & Book, Brussels, Belgium

 

Fifteenth Century Bookstore, Lewes, UK

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